Saturday, January 31, 2015

ANOTHER DANDY DAY


Another week ends, along with the first month of the new year.

The river, when I stepped outside a few minutes ago to toss a few scoops of cracked corn to my ground-feeding birds, was a lovely luminous green and full of slush, like a slow-moving margarita. No surprise, since the thermometer reads a measly 13˚F.

It's also sunny, and the warm-looking light coming through the tangled limbs of the big sycamore at the bottom of the driveway, belies the cold—though only temporarily. Wishful dreaming is no lasting match for bone-jarring shivers which threaten to shake an underdressed fellow's spine apart.    

The latest word from the weather wizards is that it's supposed to rise to near 40˚F by early afternoon, then start getting nasty—with rain and sleet overnight, more of the same tomorrow plus snow…3-10 inches, according to which prediction you give credence.

Myladylove, bless her trusting heart, has her hopes set on a "snow day" Monday. I'm more pessimistic and will believe anything over 5 inches when I shovel it.

I awoke yesterday feeling awful, with a very sore and swollen throat. Lots of strong lapsang tea, liberally laced with honey and lemon, homemade chicken soup for lunch, plus keeping a cozy warm fire in the woodstove, all had me feeling pretty good by evening and I'm back to what passes for normal today.

Providing my morning's under-insulated bird-feeding foray doesn't trigger a setback (yeah, I should'a known better) it's shaping up to be a dandy day by the riverbank.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

MINOR MELT?


According to local weather soothsayers, today's high temperature is supposed to flirt with the 50˚F mark! If true, we should certainly see a minor melt of the snow and ice along the river. 

Not all is likely to disappear, of course—not unless such unseasonably warm temperatures linger for several days. Which isn't the current prediction. While they say we'll have daytime highs slightly above freezing, at least into the middle of next week, it's more mid-30˚s to low-40˚s range, and back to below freezing at night. Better than sub-zero double digits, but not apt to erase all of winter's frozen delights.

However, I've been wrong before. And if I know anything about weather, it's that it's unpredictable. So just in case, I thought I'd share this upstream river view from a couple of mornings ago—with the sycamores all varnished gold by the rising sun, and the shadowed water's long, liquid sapphire undulation—all framed by a white, snow-covered ice shelf that may or may not be hanging around.   

      

Sunday, January 11, 2015

EYES WESTWARD


For the past few hours, I've been keeping an eye to the west. West is the direction from which our weather typically arrives. My interest was piqued because the National Weather Service has been nattering on about a major storm for hours, and had a "winter weather advisory" in effect hereabouts until 4:00 p.m. "Rain, freezing rain, sleet, ice accumulation, snow." A 100% chance.

It's now 5:39 p.m. and…nothing. Zip. Nada. Diddly-squat. Nary a drip, pellet, or flake has fallen. Not even a chilly mist. Which is not a complaint, mind you. But such a lack thereof did rouse my curiosity, so I checked out their various radar maps. 

Maybe a half-dozen miles to our north there's a decidedly ugly mass of nasty weather stretching from Indianapolis, Indiana to the west to Mansfield, Ohio in the east, and north nearly to Lake Erie. We're just below this storm-band's southern edge.

To the south of us, perhaps a dozen miles, there's an even bigger, even uglier mass of stormy weather spanning from west of Louisville, Kentucky practically to the Ohio River on the east—about to cross over that eastern border to enter West Virginia and Pennsylvania. 

Our amnesty—whether by a favorable whim of the weather gods or some simple high-pressure anomaly—is because we're in this perfectly clear slot—a storm-free lane within that huge mass of hazardous weather the NWS has been warning everyone about. But not, alas, for too much longer, since a glance at the pertinent, wider-spanning mosaic sector radar shows plenty of storm yet to come. Sooner or later, I fear our reprieve will end.

Now, though, we're in the V.I.P. seat! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

BEARD TALK


Morning conversations with Myladylove can be lively, serpentine, and only occasionally winnable, as illustrated by today's example.

Her: Are you growing a beard?
Me: Nope.
Her:  Okay, what's that stubbly stuff on your cheeks?
Me:  Whiskers.
Her:  So you did decide to grow a beard?
Me:  No, I didn't.
Her:  Then why are little hairs fuzzing your face?
Me:  I decided to not shave.
Her:  Cause and effect! Same thing.
Me:  No, it's not.
Her:  What's the difference?
Me:  Deciding to not shave was a choice. Growing a beard wasn't.
Her:  You're word weaseling.
Me:  Simply setting the record straight.
Her:  Now you sound like a politician.
Me:  The world's second oldest profession.
Her:  I thought that was lawyers?
Me:  Often one and the same.
Her:  Let me get this straight…you showered in the morning?
Me:  Certainly.
Her:  Brushed your teeth, combed your hair?
Me:  Yup.
Her:  But balked at a shave?
Me:  That's correct.
Her:  So this other part of a beard isn't actually a beard you're growing?
Me:  What you mean by other part?
Her:  You have the mustache part already.
Me:  Mustaches and beards are entirely separate things.
Her:  They're both hair on your face!
Me:  So are eyebrows and sideburns.
Her:  You're quibbling with details.
Me:  Merely stating facts.
Her:  We're discussing facial hair. Sideburns are part of a haircut.
Me:  Some men extend their sideburns across the cheek into their mustache.
Her:  And when sideburns get onto the cheek or chin, they're beard!
Me:  Elvis's sideburns weren't part of a beard.
Her:  Elvis's sideburns didn't end up under his nose, either.
Me:  Yesterday was Elvis's birthday.
Her:  What's that got to do with your beard?
Me:  Anyway, beards and mustaches are different categories of facial hair.
Her:  They're the same to me.
Me:  Not to the Amish.
Her:  I'm not Amish, and neither are you!
Me:  That's true.
Her:  What's also true is that you can be truly exasperating!
Me:  I agree. I exasperate myself frequently.
Her:  You sure get picky over terminology.
Me:  I'm a writer. Words are precise tools.
Her:  And lots of writers grow beards.
Me:  I'm not growing a beard!
Her:  Hemingway, Tolstoy, Whitman…
Me:  Old guys.
Her:  You're a fairly old guy.
Me:  But not geriatric!
Her:  Not yet. Perhaps getting reasonably close.
Me:  You really think I'm becoming decrepit?
Her:  No-o-o, you're just a fiesty, curmudgeonly, geezer.
Me:  Whatever. Those writers were from a different era.
Her:  So not attempting the old-school literary look?
Me:  Absolutely not.
Her:  Or the the arctic explorer look, because of the snow and cold?
Me:  I'm not attempting any look!
Her:  How about a northwoods look to go with the flannels?
Me:  Fine. I'll shave today!
Her:  It's okay—you can grow your beard regardless of the reason.
Me:  I'm not growing a beard!
Her:  Now you're getting testy. Besides, I'm just messing with you.
Me:  Really? Why?
Her:  'Cause it energizes me before going to work.
Me:  Can't you just rely on caffeine like everyone else?
Her:  Nope. You're more fun.
Me:  Glad to be so usefully stimulating.
Her:  You sure writing isn't the world's second oldest profession?
Me:  Frankly, at times I feel a remarkable kinship to the first!

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

TIME FAST, TIME SLOW


The new year is already three days old—and so is the month of January. Moreover, if you reckon your seasons by the calendar, we're now a full two weeks deep into winter.

Time flies. At least sometimes. It sure has sped by since mid-autumn. 

Leaves began to color. I started sawing and splitting firewood. Soon came Halloween, and shortly after—seems no more than a week or two—Thanksgiving…and the next day began the frantic rush into gift shopping, tree decorating, meals and parties and gatherings where your attendance was expected if not necessarily desired, then Christmas and (gasp a quick breath!) New Year's Eve which morphed into New Year's Day—whereupon down comes the last of the decorations, and suddenly…well, suddenly here we are.

That's time in full gallop—one mad three-month long sprint which leaves you over-fed, exhausted, broke, and more than a little stunned that you again managed to survive. Not that you would change a thing! For even during those most maniacal moments, when you felt like you'd been abducted by aliens while you slept, and forced to star in some parallel world's farcical comedy as the butt of every gage, joke, and pratfall…even then, there's some masochistic part of you that truly believes you're having fun.

And you were, in fact, actually having fun—though it takes a few months of rest and perspective for such an insight to come into focus. 

Which is where time in slow crawl earns its keep. We need the empty interregnum between the holidays just passed and those heading our way over the horizon—Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, or Easter, depending of how you define holiday, and what you choose to celebrate, though you might also throw a little New Orleans jazz and some red-beans-and-rice in there, too, with Mardi Gras. 

And spring…let's not forget spring! Doesn't time really creep along when January arrives, winter sets in, and you begin waiting for spring? I'm convinced that anticipation actually slows down time in direct, inverse proportion. The greater your lust, the slower time passes.

Ahh-h-h, time. Time fast and time slow. And in case you're wondering, we're not even going to get into that scientific theory which says time doesn't exist. 

We really don't have time for that!


              

Thursday, December 25, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS!





A Christmas Prayer

Loving Father,
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing 
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning 
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, 
for Jesus' sake. Amen.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

_________

To each and every one of you, my wonderful Riverdaze readers and friends, I wish you the merriest Christmas ever. I pray the year ahead is filled with good health and much happiness, and hope with all my heart you enjoy daily the gifts of beauty and love. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

NEW DAY, NEW SEASON

The rising sun varnished the tops of the sycamores across from the cottage this morning. Which hasn't been the case for at least the past couple of weeks with skies remained dimly, darkly, resolutely gray. I don't mind successive days of overcast, but the bright and cheerful sunlight will surely perk up and please Myladylove, a mild sufferer of seasonal affective disorder.

Of course, even during the dreariest of mornings, a jaunty old redbird can cheer things by merely appearing at your window in his flaming scarlet attire.

Today is not only our first sunny morning in a while, but the day of the winter solstice. The shortest, darkest day of the year…and the official start of winter. 

However, some of us view this latter new season business as nothing more than another failure of vacuous governmental meddling. An example of what happens when those ignorant in their grasp of what's happening, oblivious to both history and logic, and blinded by the self-perpetuated fantasy of their own importance, attempt to control by bureaucratic decree what was never their's to control in the first place, and over which their bluster and mandate have absolutely no power.

Don't get me wrong—we agree with the science of the solstice. But we're bemused how some foolishly think they can schedule in a season like they would a visit with a cash-carrying lobbyist seeking to buy votes.

Seasons keep their own schedules—coming and going as they will. So far as most of us are concerned, it's been winter hereabouts for well over a month. 

In the old days, the winter solstice would have marked midwinter. Logical, seeing as how from this point onward, daylight begins lengthening, the sun heads our way as spring's promise creeps resolutely toward becoming a fact. That makes sense. And seeing as how our journey to spring starts here, it would also make perfectly reasonable sense to start the new year here, today, with this passing of the solstice. That seems logical, keeping in tune with nature and natural events and rhythms.

But then civilization and progress are about distancing ourselves from the natural world and separating our lives from nature.